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How Different Attachment Styles Affect Relationships

Knowing your attachment style can help improve your romantic relationship.

Key points

  • Attachment is the emotional bond between an infant and caregiver. Attachment patterns in early life can affect relationships in adulthood.
  • There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissing-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
  • People with secure attachment tend to have honest, equal relationships. People with other attachment styles may be too demanding or distant.
  • Recognizing one's attachment style and the work that comes with it can help improve relationships.
Photo by Budgeron Bach from Pexels
Source: Photo by Budgeron Bach from Pexels

Love involves constant choice, commitment, and work. As time goes on, your attachment style can change from the way you evolve as a lover.

According to attachment theory, a person’s early relationships in life can affect their romantic relationships later on.

Here are the main attachment styles:


When you have a secure attachment style, you have a great advantage in love. You feel compatible going to your partner when something is off. In return, you allow your partner absolute freedom.

People with a secure attachment style tend to have honest, open, and equal relationships where both partners can grow and thrive together. They understand how to merge together to form a stable ground.

Security must not be confused with perfection. People with a secure attachment style also experience conflict and bad days, just like any other couple. What sets them apart is their high emotional intelligence which allows them to communicate effectively and solve problems rather than attack their partners.

They are highly resilient individuals who understand how to move past obstacles with great care and self-awareness. The secure attachment style makes up roughly 55% of the population.


These people tend to romanticize love because it’s easier for them to form a fantasy bond with someone instead of something based on reality. They are often attracted to partners they can serve or those who can serve them. Such kinds of people can be demanding, obsessive, and clingy. They tend to overanalyze situations and can have mood swings.

People with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style can struggle with insecurities and low self-esteem because they grow up without healthy guidance or little or no guidance on nurturing individuality. Research on North America and Europe reported that 20% of the population is anxious.


Analysis of studies in North America and Europe found that roughly 25% of the population are avoidant. People with a dismissive-avoidant style tend to be emotionally distant in a relationship. They come across as self-sufficient, independent and can avoid true intimacy.

Although space is essential to breathe and be yourself in a relationship, people with a dismissive-avoidant style seek space more often to push themselves away from being vulnerable with their partners.

If at any point their partner threatens to leave them, they have the ability to shut their emotions and pretend they don’t care. However, extreme independence is an illusion because humans need a connection to survive. As a result, such people have very few close relationships with others.


Fearful-avoidant people experience a delicate mixture, fearing both being too close to or too distant from their lovers. People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may think that connections are not important.

These people can be unpredictable and are often overwhelmed by their emotions. They fear being abandoned and struggle with being confident in their partner or relying on them. They face a lot of inner conflict between wanting intimacy and resisting it.

As a result, they usually experience many highs and lows in relationships. They cling to their partners when they feel rejected and, if not careful, can end up in abusive relationships. They also have few close relationships. About 5% of the global population is regarded as fearful.


Accepting your attachment style and recognizing the work that comes with it can be life-changing and powerful.

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